Screenwriting & Animation (SWAN)
As a response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) the Office of the Dean, College of Liberal Arts will be operating remotely from an off-campus location. Our on-campus offices will remain closed until further notice. You may still contact our offices by calling 443.885.3090 during business hours or by emailing CLA@morgan.edu. Our faculty and staff remain committed to student success.
On CANVAS look for SWAN Community, and for SWAN Studio for applied virtual demonstrations and visiting artists.You are able to contact the SWAN Program by using our main numbers for the program or email:
Keith Mehlinger. SWAN Director 443-885-1741
Jessica Pettiford, SWAN Coordinator 443-885-4344
Screenwriting and Animation (SWAN) is Morgan's cinematic arts and sciences major and the most technology immersive program in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA). Much more than just a film major, SWAN lays the groundwork for evolving artists, filmmakers, and content producers to forge career paths in entertainment, education, science, and business at a time when visual storytelling is the dominant narrative form of the 21st Century.
The SWAN major has three concentrations:
- The Computer Animation concentration requires courses in 2D and 3D animation, motion design, storyboarding, web design, multimedia scripting, and games.
- The Integrated Media Writing (Screenwriting) and Animation concentration requires courses in drawing and illustration, courses in graphic comics, and more graphics art based practice in computer animation and the media arts.
- The Film and Television Writing (Screenwriting) concentration requires greater immersion in applied theory and practice in writing and content production for film/TV and multimedia, including documentary and drama.
All concentrations include:
- Film studies
- Visual storytelling and writing
- Entrepreneurship and independent filmmaking
- Ethical business practices for the industry
- Fluency in writing and creative expression
- Production field experience, and post-production workflow and assembly
- Majors take two computer science courses
- Producing webisodes, short films and documentaries, as well as informational and corporate videos
- Introductory animation workshop, and introductory and intermediate editing courses
Congratulations to the Morgan State University SWAN animation students and alumni who participated in this project with 30 professional artists and animators, and students around the world. Alfonzer Harvin (Class of 2015), Andre DeNeal (Class of 2021), and Thaiyir Sanders (Class of 2021). We look forward to the Netflix release of this animation short inspired by the tragic circumstances of the death of Ahmaud Arbery.
This week on PBS Independent Lens, Morgan SWAN Professor Dale Beran appears in Feels Good Man, an award-winning documentary on the internet and politics.
The documentary is partially based on Professor Beran's reporting on internet radicalization during the 2016 election, as told in his book It Came from Something: How a Toxic Troll Army Memed Donald Trump into Office (St. Martin's Press, 2019).
Last month, Professor Beran also contributed reporting to an episode of Reply All, a popular podcast with 5 million monthly listeners. Professor Beran was interviewed on the podcast for his reporting on the internet conspiracy theory "QAnon" and its likely effects on the 2020 presidential election.
Check out the Morgan State University 2020 Virutal Homecoming Gala! This year's gala was filmed and produced by SWAN facutly, staff and alumni. It's available to watch until Octiber 31st via the link below.
SWAN Professor and filmmaker MK Asante is celebrating the successful launch of his new Snapchat-exclusive series Free Tuition. The first episode of this documentary series reached over five million viewers!
It also caught the attention of national media outlets, including The Root, who noted that Professor Asante "has a personality that jumps out the screen."
The series fuses education and entertainment for passionate, poetic, and inspirational conversations with celebrity guests about justice, equality, and change.
Read the review here, and catch the whole series as it drops on Snapchat.
Congratulations to SWAN Professor Dale Beran for another thoughtful, well-researched essay published in The Atlantic. In his latest essay, Beran documents the return of Anonymous, the loose network of activists and hackers, amidst a national backlash against police violence and institutional racism.
"[W]hen I spoke with a variety of current and former Anonymous hackers over the past month, they all insisted that Anonymous was indeed reactivating," said Beran, who's most recent book documents internet culture and it's influence on national politics. "To understand why, and what that really means, it's helpful to keep in mind the two somewhat-competing interpretations of Anonymous."
Beran's 2019 book, It Came from Something Awful, explores similar work, drawing connections between recent political movements and their fringe online communities.
Read the entire article on Anonymous here.
10 July, 2020
Congratulations to alumnus and SWAN team member Kyle Yearwood, whose work was recently featured in an online campaign by Canon, the renowned international film, photo and electronics company. The company's brand shared Kyle's work across it's social media platforms, which was seen, shared and engaged with by countless of the brand's followers.
4 July, 2020
Professor Dale Beran shared his expertise on Internet culture in a recent piece in The Atlantic. Like much of Beran's work, the essay explains connections between the violence we see in our newsfeeds and their origins in online networks.
Speaking of a frightening coalition of "right-leaning anti-government libertarians, Second Amendment advocates, and gun enthusiasts all preparing for another American civil war," Beran explains the online communities from which they come, and where they continue to communicate. "Intermingled with memes about revolution are nostalgic images and video clips, glitched out to look like old VHS tapes, of what they imagine was the ideal existence: being the patriarch of a middle-class American nuclear family sometime between the 1950s and the 1990s," explains Beran.
Beran's most recent work, It Came From Something Awful, explores similar work, drawing connections between recent political movements and their fringe online communities. Read the entire essay here.
10 June, 2020
The Screenwriting and Animation (SWAN) program at Morgan is excited to announce it's continued partnership with the Maryland Film Festival. This year's festival is 100% online, but that hasn't stopped our continued support of this annual favorite.
Join us for the festival! Our program has already secured access to many screenings and events for students, staff and faculty. If you would like to check out this year's unique festival with us, reach out ASAP by contacting program assistant Jessica Pettiford @ firstname.lastname@example.org
This spring SWAN hosted two #BeyondQuarantine events to offer students a online version of the industry workshops and talks that make our program so special. In one, students had the opportunity to discuss the future of the industry with esteemed television producer Nina Noble. In another SWAN alum returned to discuss their careers post-graduation, and how the industry is responding and adapting to current challenges..
Congratulations to SWAN faculty member Dale Beran, whose nonfiction debut It Came from Something Awful was recently reviewed by the New York Review of Books!
Reviewer Hari Kunzru calls the book "a wild history that is meticulously and grippingly detailed."
Read the whole review at NY Books, or pick up Beran's book here.
SWAN professor MK Asante appeared this week as a guest on the TODAY show to discuss his new Snapchat show While Black, his bestselling memoir Buck, and life.
Over brunch in Philadelphia, Asante sat with host Craig Melvin to discuss growing up in the city of brotherly love, language and cultural appropriate v. cultural appreciation.
Asante also recently brought a team from SNAP to Morgan State University to discuss While Black. In addition to giving Morgan students the opportunity to screen the show and ask questions of Asante and his collaborators, the screening allowed SWAN students the opportunity to learn about all that goes into such an event.
Catch the TODAY show interview below, and be sure to watch the new trailer for While Black.
This week SWAN faculty and staff joined the Baltimore Film Office in Annapolis yesterday to oppose MD House Bill 565, which seeks to eliminate a number of tax credits, including the film production tax credit program.
Professor Mehlinger discussed the success of several SWAN alumni, and how increased credits for film product in Maryland will help keep creative industries and their workers here in the state of Maryland.
Watch the entire testimony here.
The SWAN program would like to extend a thank you to program alumni Skye Williams, who visited students this week to discuss her success after graduation. Williams has worked as a production assistant for shows like Amazon's Jack Ryan and HBO's The Deuce.
She spoke with students about the details of her job and the path ahead of her, as well as the path she took to her current role. Thanks Skye!
26 January 2020
SWAN faculty member Dale Beran is featured in a documentary being screened at this year's Sundance Film Festival!
Feels Good Man explores the creation and evolution of Pepe the Frog, a symbol that has come to be associated with online elements of the far-right. The docuentary follows the character's creator, Matt Furie, as he "decides to fight to take back Pepe from the dark forces that have turned him from a silly comic-book character into their own symbol. But is it already too late? Debut director Arthur Jones takes us through a modern-day saga of the internet that must be seen to be believed or understood. Feels Good Man shows us how a character meant to provide joy and fun can slowly morph into something else--but just maybe can change again."
Beran is interviewed in the film as an expert on online movements, and how the alt-right and 4Chan played a role in the 2016 presidential elections. His book-length exploration of the subject, It Came From Something Awful, was released in 2019 to national acclaim.
If you're out at this year's festival, learn more about the film and when to catch it here. Learn More about Beran's research and latest book in his recent interview on NPR.
20 May 2019
This week our program was named one of the most affordable animation programs in the nation. The Screenwriting and Animation program at Morgan State University was included on the Affordable Schools list of 15 most affordable programs, which used a methodology that took into consideration the price of tuition and fees alongside graduation rates and student-to-faculty ration. These are metrics that matter to our program, faculty and students.
Read more about the ranking, it’s methodology, and what animation students can expect during and after their university experience here.
18 May 2019
Congratulations to our 2019 graduating class! The Screenwriting and Animation program send our best wishes out to Morgan’s entire class of 2019, but particularly our graduating majors and minors. Eight SWAN majors and one minor wrapped up their time here at Morgan this year; we know that all of them will go on to continue doing amazing work.
Good luck and Godspeed in this next chapter of your journey!
9 May 2019
Today our program was honored to welcome filmmaker Stanley Nelson to the Maryland Film Festival for the Baltimore premiere of his latest film, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool.
The Screenwriting and Animation program presented this special screening on the first full day of the festival, and several more times throughout the weekend. SWAN students and faculty attended a special opening night even, and sat down for an intimate Q&A session with the celebrated documentary filmmaker.
14 April, 2019
This week, the department hosted a visit from actor, director and writer Roger Guenveur Smith.
The visit, coordinated in conjunction with the James H. Gilliam, Jr. College of Liberal Arts, included a visit with SWAN students in the classroom, followed by a performance of “Frederick Douglas Now!,” Smith’s acclaimed one-man-show. After the performance, Smith led a cross-campus march and Q&A session from the Murphy Fine Arts Center to the statue of Frederick Douglass at Holmes Hall.
Smith performed to a standing-room only crowd that included students, staff and faculty from across the university. The trek across campus became a memorable moment for our campus community that SWAN was proud to share.
8 October, 2018
Bear Tracks is excited to host Ms. Stacey Adams, a recruitment manager for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences! The Academy will be holding an informational tabling event in the University Student Center from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. on November 7, 2018.
The event is brought to the university via BearTracks, Morgan's Career Pathway Initiative, a $2 million investment by the United Negro College Fund to strengthen career placement outcomes by increasing the number of Morgan graduates who achieve meaningful employment immediately after graduation.
7 October, 2018
Morgan State University is proud to host the 20th Annual Animation Show of Shows! The show will present 16 international animated short films for the students and faculty of MSU. Curated by Acme Films founder Ron Diamond, the show has selected the best animated shot films from around the world and presented them at the major animation studios to inspire animators and directors since 1998.
Join SWAN faculty and students for the Animation Show of Shows on Friday, 12 October, from noon - 3 p.m. in the Lecture Hall 100 of the Behavioral and Social Science building. For more information or to register, visit the Eventbrite page.
6 October, 2018
The Department of World Languages, the Honors College and the Quarles Institute present "Homestory Deutschland: Black Biographies in Historical and Present Times." The exhibit will be on display on the first floor of the new Martin D. Jenkins Hall from 11 - 25 October.
The exhibit will include the following events:
- - 16 October, 3 p.m.
Lecture by Dr. Fatima El-Tayeb and opening reception
- 18 October, 6:30 p.m. (BSSC 100 and Atrium)
Film screening of Audre Lorde: the Berlin Years
- 23 October, 11 a.m. (BSSC 100)
Roundtable discussion: "The African-American Scholar in Germany, a Morgan perspective"
- 24 October, 6:30 p.m.
Film Screening: The Valley of the Innocent (BSSC 100)
27 January, 2018
Local and national media took notice of SWAN alumnus Kyle Yearwood and his art after he flipped a racist advertisement on it's end.
After creating artwork responding to a now infamous H&M advertisement, Yearwood's version of work went viral, receiving hundreds of thousands of views on Instagram, and gaining the attention celebrities and news media. Watch CBS interview Yearwood and hear him discuss the ad, his work and his vision here.
13 December, 2017
The Screenwriting & Animation program recently wrapped up our fifth workshop with the Baltimore Youth Film Arts Program, and the short work produced during the class is getting a lot of attention. SWAN professor Keith Mehlinger led "Cinematic Action Photography this fall, which introduced BYFA students the basic methods and processes action photography for motion pictures.
Joined by program assistant Kyle Yearwood and current student Jessica Pettiford, Mehlinger work with students to produce a short piece on Urban Curves, a local women's motorcycle club.
SWAN senior Malkah Bell was recently interviewed along with Jed Dietz, founding director for the Maryland Film Festival during the WBAL-TV 11 Morning Show.
Bell was featured for her work on the short student film, "The Sound of Us." The film was selected, along with one other from SWAN, to be screened at the new SNF Parkway Theater as part of the 2017 Fall Baltimore Student Film Showcase.